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Fall colors

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Fall colors

When is a good time to see the fall colors and the rutting season

5 replies to this topic
Fort Collins, CO
Level Contributor
430 posts
69 reviews
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1. Re: Fall colors

The fall colors are generally best the 3rd and 4th weeks of September. The elk rut is mid-September through mid-October.

Windsor, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
Level Contributor
12,473 posts
136 reviews
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2. Re: Fall colors

RMNP rangers posted this FAQ answer on Facebook and Twitter last year about fall color.

"Fall comes early to the high country. Up high the tundra turns to shades of autumn russets, reds, and oranges as August progresses.

Years vary, but generally in the last week of August the first gold aspen leaves start showing up, high on hillsides.

In early September, leaves start turning gold in the Grand Lake area.

On the east side, Bear Lake starts turning golden in mid-September, and in the Estes Park area in late-September into early October.

Weather (rain, snow, wind) can affect when the trees turn, and can even cause the leaves to fall early."

Because the combination of fall color and elk rut in RMNP is so appealing to so many people, I strongly encourage you to visit RMNP during the week and not on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. The crowds are overwhelming. If history is any indication, the weekends of September 22 (free day in the park) and 23 and September 29/30 (Elk Fest in Estes Park) will be among the highest visitation weekends of the entire year in RMNP.

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Grand Lake
Grand Lake
Grand County, CO
Bear Lake
Bear Lake
1,483 Reviews
Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
Estes Park
Estes Park
Colorado
4 posts
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3. Re: Fall colors

Wouldn't you know it that is the weekend we have booked for we will be at Grand Lake and we will not be traveling any further than Fairview Curve do you still anticipate a crowd on the west side of the park?

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Grand Lake
Grand Lake
Grand County, CO
Windsor, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
Level Contributor
12,473 posts
136 reviews
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4. Re: Fall colors

If you are talking about the weekend of September 22/23, all of RMNP will be busy including the west side, but the west side between Grand Lake and Far View Curve will not be nearly as crowded as the more popular east side. By the weekend of September 29/30, the west side of the park and Grand Lake are not usually that busy. By then, the leaves on the west side of RMNP and in the Grand Lake area are often past peak. In later September, Trail Ridge Road can be temporarily closed as a through road due to snow at higher elevations. That is another reason visitation to the west side of RMNP and Grand Lake tapers off toward the end of September.

While the elk rut happens on both sides of RMNP. There are more elk herds and harems and more areas to observe the elk rut on the east side and in Estes Park. On the west side of RMNP, elk congregate in the Harbison and Holzwarth Meadows. Observe the elk protection closures in these areas.

https:/…area_closures.htm

For additional fall color and scenery, I highly recommend this loop from Grand Lake through Byers Canyon, highway 9 to Frisco, over Loveland Pass and back to Grand Lake.

https://goo.gl/maps/FPaenhJeigP2

You can add the Guanella Pass Scenic Byway (another great fall color drive) to the above route.

https://goo.gl/maps/c7K9NAqNwuC2

If you have time on your way from Denver (assuming you are traveling from Denver) to Grand Lake, the Guanella Pass Scenic Byway could be included at that time. Here is that route.

https://goo.gl/maps/LKZnky3CWmM2

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Grand Lake
Grand Lake
Grand County, CO
Trail Ridge Road
Trail Ridge Road
3,074 Reviews
Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
Estes Park
Estes Park
Colorado
Frisco
Frisco
Colorado
Loveland Pass
Loveland Pass
214 Reviews
Keystone, CO
Denver
Denver
Colorado
Guanella Pass
Guanella Pass
280 Reviews
Georgetown, CO
4 posts
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5. Re: Fall colors

Thank you for all the important info we will be traveling down hwy 125 outside of Wyoming and going to the park in that direction we plan to arrive Sept 22nd still hoping to see some color have been to the park before one if not the best nat parks we have visited color or no color still will enjoy it's beauty

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Wyoming
Wyoming
United States
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